We can all immediately identify daffodils by their vibrant golden yellow color.
But do they have to be yellow all the time?
Can you dye daffodils?
And if so how?
There is a way to give your daffodils a different color, and it is also a great scientific experiment if you have kids.
So let’s find out a bit more.
Can You Dye Daffodils?
Yes, you can dye daffodils (and many other flowers) by simply filling a vase with water and adding some food coloring. Place the daffodil in the vase and it will absorb the water, transporting the food color up its stem, carrying it into the petals which will gradually change color. If you are feeling adventurous you can even split the stem into two and place each half in water with different colored food dyes.
How Do You Make Colored Daffodils?
The good news is if you want to change the color of your daffodils you can.
Not only that, doing it is actually quite easy and a lot of fun.
Essentially you will be using food coloring to dye the daffodil. Daffodils work particularly well as they have herbaceous stems that absorb the food coloring more quickly than those flowers that have woody stems.
All you need to do this is:
The paler the better so you can see the effects of the food coloring.
- Food coloring
Natural food coloring is a good option as the particles are smaller and will travel up the stem of the daffodil more easily. The color is your choice, but obviously the brighter the color the easier it will be to see.
- Glass vase
- Medicine dropper
- Knife/scissors to cut the daffodil stems
Then just follow these steps:
- STEP ONE: Fill the vase with around 8 oz. (250ml) of water and, using the medicine dropper, add anywhere between 15 to 25 drops of the food coloring. Stir with the spoon to mix.
- STEP TWO: Cut the bottom inch off of the daffodil stem at an angle and place it in the water.
- STEP THREE: Put the vase on the window sill. Ideally out of direct sunlight and away from any drafts.
- STEP FOUR: Wait for a day or two, and watch your daffodils magically change color!
And that is it, it really is that simple.
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This also demonstrates the process of transpiration. The open pores of the daffodil allow water to evaporate into the air.
To replenish itself, the daffodil’s vascular system transports water and nutrients up its stem, through tiny tubes called xylem.
The food coloring is carried most obvious into the petals of the daffodil, but also the leaves and stem will absorb the coloring as well.
The action is similar to that which occurs when we drink through a straw. Except rather than our mouth sucking up the liquid, it is the daffodil’s stem doing the job.
The newly absorbed water will eventually evaporate from the daffodil, but the food coloring doesn’t and will remain in the daffodil.
Simply keep your daffodil in a vase filled with dyed water and it will retain its new color.
How Do You Dye Daffodil Flowers in Two Colors?
You can even take the above experiment up a notch and give your daffodil a unique two-tone look.
The only extra pieces of equipment you need are another vase and a different color of food dye.
Fill the extra vase with the water and new food coloring as detailed above.
Before you put your daffodil in the water, slice its stem vertically, leaving an inch or two of solid stem before the head of the daffodil.
Insert half of the stem into each vase.
The daffodil will absorb the water from both vases, so you will end up with two different colored sets of petals!
Can You Dye Any Growing Flower?
You can try this on almost any flower, although as noted at the beginning of this article flowers with herbaceous stems, such as daffodils, chrysanthemums, tulips or carnations, make the best subjects.
Ideally, you want a fresh, white or pale colored flower too.
In fact, professional florists regularly give flowers a new life by dying them in a variety of ways.
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Dyeing spray is a kind of spray paint for plants.
Of course, it is manufactured especially for this purpose so is much more delicate.
Florists often have special airbrushing machines to sweep the spray evenly over the flowers, but you can buy dyeing spray yourself.
If you buy some and are going to try spray painting your own flowers just make sure you put plenty of cloth or newspaper down to protect any surrounding surfaces!
Spray around 15 to 18 inches from the flower and then set in an upright vase to dry without smudging.
This involves submerging a flower in a specialty dye available online or in florist shops.
Your flower gets a ‘bath’ in the selected dye. Just hold its stem and dip the flower head into the dye. This works best on flowers that are already fully opened.
Hold it for a few seconds and remove and give it a gentle wash with fresh water. Repeat the process if you want your flower to have a darker hue.
When you are done, just leave it to dry.
This is a process that can be used on dried flowers, don’t try it on fresh flowers.
Boil some powered or liquid fabric dye in water, and carefully dip the dried flower into the boiling dye for five to ten seconds. Please use tongs or something similar to hold the stem of the flower whilst you do this.
Repeat if necessary until you have the desired look.
Then hang your dyed flower upside down until it has dried.
Are There Any Daffodils That Naturally Change Color?
If you want a daffodil that changes color naturally without the need for food dye, there are a few options:
Narcissus ‘Changing Colors’
The clue is in the name here!
The Changing Colors daffodil has a large creamy yellow cup, that fades to light yellow and then a soft, peachy pink.
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The true color of the Salome develops as its bloom matures.
Its creamy petals and butter yellow cup, slowly fade to a subtle peach pink.
It is large too, the flowers can grow to 9cm across.
Narcissus ‘Rainbow of Colors’
Again the clue is in the name.
What makes the Rainbow of Colors daffodil really unique, is not necessarily its color, but the fact it has a split cup that flares outward, so it is almost flattened against the outer petals.
The showy look of the petals is only accentuated by their changing color, going from yellowy orange to a salmon pink color over the course of its blooming period.
A few drops of food coloring is really all your need to change the color of your daffodil.
It is a fun little experiment, and also a great way to give your kids a quick science lesson and show them how water travels to the petals.
It works best on paler daffodils, with the Paperwhite Narcissus probably being the best choice.
Either way, the simple process of dying a flower isn’t limited to daffodils you can try it on any number of plants.
You can even give them a two-tone effect if you feel particularly confident!